Can YOU use an extra $250,000? --Employee gets CEO's paycheck

The Daily Record Newswire

Money for nothing.

For nearly a year-and-a-half, Robert Del Col, president of FundQuest Inc., was one of the poorest paid CEOs around.

A clerical error by the Boston financial advisory company Del Col founded mistakenly led a human resources employee in 2007 to direct-deposit the boss's bi-weekly paycheck into the bank account of John Curran, a FundQuest maintenance specialist.

When all was said and done, Curran was a quarter-of-a-million dollars richer - money that should have gone to Del Col, who had been laboring away for free.

Curran never let on he was receiving the nice bump in pay.

Instead, he decided to complain that the company wasn't paying him his own salary.

According to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Boston, FundQuest responded to Curran's gripe by paying him his salary - in addition to that of Del Col.

Curran's ethically challenged arrangement continued until the end of 2007 when he up and left his job.

And while his own salary stopped at that point, he amazingly continued to accrue 28 additional direct deposit payments intended for Del Col's bank account.

Meanwhile, Del Col didn't become aware of the snafu until 2009, when, as Judge Richard G. Stearns wrote, Del Col ''woke up to the fact that he had not been paid for some sixteen months.''

When the error was uncovered, FundQuest attempted through its insurance carrier to recover the money mistakenly paid to Curran.

While the insurer wrote a check to cover payments made before Curran's resignation, it refused to fork over any ducats paid out once he had departed.

CharCretia V. DiBartolo of Boston's Hinshaw and Culbertson, who represented the insurance company, said that once Curran resigned, any money he collected could not be attributed to employee dishonesty.

''He was no longer an employee, so anything he took after his resignation wouldn't be covered,'' she says.

But Stearns saw things differently, holding that the company's loss was covered by the policy's employee dishonesty and theft provision.

''[Curran's] dishonest passivity - maintaining his silence after learning that he was receiving a grossly inflated paycheck - began at FundQuest and simply continued uninterrupted after he left,'' the judge wrote.

Gerald A. Phelps of Quincy, who represented FundQuest, says the case turned on the fact that Curran's misconduct began while he was still an employee.

''He had a duty to speak up and tell his employer that someone else's pay was being deposited into his checkbook, and he never did that,'' he says.

''It was his bad act that put the machinery in motion here, and because of that breach, my client was covered by the insurance.''

As for Curran, Jake Wark, a spokesman for Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley, says the former employee was charged with larceny over $250 and received five years' probation, along with an order that he pay back the money.

Published: Mon, Jul 12, 2010